Johannes Scharf, 40
Chairman of the executive board, FEV Europe
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
As a student I worked in vehicle simulation for Porsche, which was fitting because I have always liked cars, especially sports cars. My first job got me hooked because I really appreciated the technical complexity of automotive products and the high level of engineering skill in the industry.
Your greatest achievement?
Leading a team of 5,000 talented “tech heads.” It’s a pleasure and an honor to tackle technology challenges with them every day.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
After having invested two years in my first doctorate thesis I got stuck. I had to change my thesis topic and restart from zero. This taught me the importance of facing a challenge head on and refusing to quit. I also learned some excellent time management skills that serve me well today at FEV if we encounter unforeseen issues and challenges.
Born: Dusseldorf, Germany
Languages: German, English, Spanish
Education: Doctorate in engineering, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany; master’s degree in mechanical engineering, RWTH Aachen University and Polytechnic University of Madrid, Spain
What is your current challenge at work?
Delivering on short-term cost targets while simultaneously setting the stage for the industry’s sustainable transformation, all while coping with global disruptions caused by the pandemic.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
There are a few bits of advice that have served me well over the years. One is to always have the courage to accept and correct your own errors. The other is: communication, communication, communication.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Go for it. This is a great industry that works at the highest level of technology. It provides a big playground where smart, passionate people can succeed.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I can’t think of a job that I would want more than this one.
What do you do to relax?
I enjoy spending time with the family. Playing soccer and painting are also great ways for me to relax.
2020-present: Chairman of the executive board, FEV Europe, Aachen, Germany
2020-present: Managing director, FEV Europe, Aachen
2016-2019: Vice president business unit gasoline and hybrid powertrains, FEV Europe, Aachen
What is your dream location to live?
I really like the city of Barcelona in Spain.
What is your favorite driving song?
I am going to have to say, "Going Back to My Roots" by Odyssey.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
It was a trip along the U.S. west coast from Seattle, Washington, to Mexico. We made a long stopover in San Diego because California just gives me good vibes. I spent a couple of years living there as a child together with my family. Since then I have visited often.
What was your first car?
It was a Mitsubishi Colt GLXi.
An Audi A6 Avant station wagon.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
My heart says I would like to be a Porsche GT3 Touring, but my head says I should be a VW ID3.